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Interview With Pat Boone

Aired August 14, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, a freak fall put Pat Boone's grandson into a coma a year ago, but he's fighting his way back from near death and winning. Did prayers save Ryan Corbin's life?
Joining us with this inspirational story is Pat Boone, who never lost faith that his grandson would survive and with him, his daughter, and Ryan's mom, Lindy Boone Michaelis and Ryan's sister, Jessi Corbin. Plus, Pat Boone's pastor, Jack Hayford, from the Church on The Way and Dr. Robert Schuller, founding pastor of the world-renowned Crystal Cathedral Ministries. The emotional story that we followed exclusively since Ryan's accident one year ago. It's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Welcome to another edition of LARRY KING LIVE as we continue our look at the saga, if we could call it that, of the grandson of Pat Boone, who had this incredible freak fall on June 19, 2001. We've assembled his mother, his sister, Pat, of course, his grandfather and two distinguished members of the ministry. But first, to those who may not know the story, who may have missed previous shows, as we watched his progress. What happened on June 19 of last year, Pat?

PAT BOONE, RYAN CORBIN'S GRANDFATHER: It just startles me when I hear you say that date. Over a year ago now, Ryan went up on the roof of an apartment building where he and two buddies had an apartment in west L.A. to get some sun in the afternoon. And there was a skylight over the lobby, some 40 feet below. We don't know exactly how it happened, but Ryan tripped or something and fell through the skylight and hit two railings, the third floor and second floor railings through a concrete floor. His buddy immediately called paramedics within six or seven minutes, I think it was. They were there. It was so fast and, then of course, called my wife, Shirley. And she arrived at UCLA emergency admittance right as the paramedics had brought Ryan in and they really didn't think...

KING: He was unconscious?

BOONE: Unconscious. He had been hurt very badly. And in fact, the paramedic told Shirley, his grandmother, not to get her hopes up because they didn't think he would make it. It was too far and the impact too great. But those great folks at UCLA went to work and, although it was nip and tuck for a long time, they pulled him through and he's been in other hospitals since then. They didn't think he would get past a ventilator in his throat and even maybe a vegetative state, but...

KING: Coma, right?

BOONE: Coma for five months.

KING: What was the -- what did they call this? What did he have? Fractures?

BOONE: Well, he had a broken jaw and fractured skull and brain injury.

KING: They did not expect him to come out of the coma?

BOONE: No, no. They gave us no real hope at that time.

KING: Now, Ryan is how old?

BOONE: Twenty-four then. He's 25 now.

KING: Jessi, you're his younger sister?


KING: OK. Now, when did you get this idea of starting prayer involvement?

BOONE: Oh, from the instant we heard that this had happened. We didn't know how bad it was or how bad it would be. But, you know, I think I've told you that when Shirley arrived at UCLA and the paramedic gave her this dire announcement -- "Just don't get your hopes up, lady" -- she said it rose up in her -- he will live and not die and declare the works of the Lord.


BOONE: That's biblical. That's from Isaiah.

KING: And you thought that right away?

MICHAELIS: You know, I was in Spain when this happened...


MICHAELIS: ... and I didn't hear about it until many hours had passed and to get a call at 5:00 in the morning from my sister and telling me that my son had fallen three-and-half-stories, I'm really, really grateful that I could join hands with my husband and my other son instantly and call on God to take care of him.

KING: Did the people who viewed it explain what happened, Pat? Or we still don't clearly know?

BOONE: He only had one buddy who was with him and...

KING: He didn't see it happen?

BOONE: Well, we didn't think so. And now, it turns out that he did. Maybe there was a miscommunication...

KING: Is there going to be lawsuits involved in this? BOONE: He had just got -- well, I don't know about lawsuits. There are lawyers involved because, you know, there are insurance companies and the owners of the building and there was a thing that was unprotected.

KING: He left UCLA and went to a rehab place. That's where we visited him, right?

BOONE: Yes, the...

KING: ... at the first...


KING: And now, he is where?

BOONE: Home.


BONNE: He's in Lindy's house.

KING: Now, the -- we'll get to that in a minute. Now, the idea of prayer -- I mean the idea of making -- we understand personal prayer -- of making the prayer public?

BONNE: Well, we wanted as many people as knew about it, that might learn about it, to pray for Ryan. We just believe that the more people who pray, obviously, not that God needs a whole big lot of people to approach his throne about something. He knows just when one of us calls on him. But I there's some purpose in this, as I look back over this last year, because I know God could heal him like that. He hasn't been doing that. This great progress is taking a while, but thanks to you and to publications and so on, millions of people are watching this. They've become involved. They let us know by the hundreds of thousands that they're praying for Ryan and wanting to know is God involved. Is he going to hear your prayer? Is Ryan going to recover? And he is. And this is going to be a great evidence of God's grace and goodness.

KING: Did you waiver at all, Lindy?

MICHAELIS: Waiver in...

KING: I mean look every day and someone's in a coma?

MICHAELIS: I have good days and bad days. And there are days where I feel the sadness of not being able to hear his voice right now. But, overall, what I'm very thankful for is that I don't have to be swayed by my mood. I have something a lot more solid than what mood I'm in.

KING: Which is?

MICHAELIS: The word of God.

KING: So your faith has never diminished?


KING: What about you, Jessi, the sister?

CORBIN: It's been an interesting ride.

KING: Has your faith been questioned?

CORBIN: I was coming from a different spot at the start of this than my family.

KING: Less faith?

CORBIN: Less faith. Giving myself the freedom not to have the faith that they did, not to say that I was totally apart from them. But just -- I didn't pursue it the way that they did. And when I hit this instant -- incident with Ryan, you really do reach the end of yourself.

KING: When we visited where he was being kept -- where was that place?

BONNE: Cabaradian?

KING: Yes.


KING: When we visited there, he was doing better, right?


KING: He could...

BOONE: He shook hands with you.

KING: He shook hands with me. I mean, it was a very emotional day, but he wasn't giving any signs of communicating.

BOONE: Not a lot, no, just some response, but not what we wanted.

KING: Mostly to stare, right?

BOONE: But there's been a slow, steady up curve.

KING: We're going to see that in the next segment.


KING: Jack Hayford, as Pat's pastor, when you hear something like this, don't you say, "Why?"

JACK HAYFORD, PAT BOONE'S PASTOR: Well, I think all of us raise -- the question in our human nature is to inquire, but the bottom line of all why's, Larry, is resolved when we take the revelation of God, himself and His word, what He's shown to us in himself and his son. But the things that happen in our world are all the result of a very broken world and not a part of a divine design to inflict things on us.

KING: But what have been broken about a boy falling through a sky then?

HAYFORD: Well, just that it's an imperfect world. It's an imperfect world. Something -- as you mentioned a moment ago, there's something that's flawed in here. Who knows what happened with him in terms of perhaps a voluntary lapse in his equilibrium, all of the things that the flesh is air too. And so, I mean, in that sense, of a broken world.

KING: Dr. Schuller, when you pray -- in an instance like this, when you watch people pray for someone to get better, do you ever say, "Why did you let him get hurt?"

DR. ROBERT SCHULLER, CRYSTAL CATHEDRAL MINISTRIES: I don't think in my life I've ever asked the question why. I've been a pastor for 52 years -- funerals, tragedies.

KING: In your own home.

SCHULLER: Well, and family. I've never asked the question why.

KING: Why not?

SCHULLER: Because subconsciously, I know God won't answer it.

KING: Because?

SCHULLER: Because when you ask why, you don't want an explanation. You want an argument.


SCHULLER: So we -- and so I don't want to get in an argument with God. It's one of the lessons from the cross. Jesus said, "My God, my God, why?" And God, in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) spirits never said a mumbling word.

KING: Let's get a break and pick right up on the power of prayer. As we go to break, here's, I think, Jessi and her brother. Watch.


CORBIN: Give me a fishy kiss. OK. Give me popper kiss. Ready? Big popper kiss.


CORBIN: And give me Eskimo kiss. Good. And give me butterfly kiss. (LAUGHTER)




BONNE: You made me so very happy. I'm so glad you came into my life. That's right.


BOONE: How about, on a day like today, we pass the time away writing love letters in the sand." Yes.


KING: Only Pat Boone helping a sick grandson and plugging a tune.

BOONE: Plugging my old tunes.

KING: That's right. Still available, folks, in record stores...


KING: That's a marked improvement over the...

BOONE: Oh, yes.

KING: ... when I was there. And he couldn't form words. And we're going to give you another example here. Here is a clip taken that day, I think, with Lindy, his mother, and Ryan. Watch.


MICHAELIS: I believe I could fly. I believe I could touch the what? Sky. I think about it every night and day, spread my wings and fly away. Very good.


KING: How do doctors explain that?

BOONE: Well, I don't -- we haven't asked any doctors, have we?


BOONE: I mean the doctors gave us their dire...

KING: Don't doctors come see him?

BOONE: None.

MICHAELIS: We take him to the doctor if he gets sick, but he's home and getting therapy. He's in rehabilitation.

KING: Well, what's operating here to cause him to be able to, obviously, start to form words?


BOONE: And reconnection.


BOONE: I mean they told me. And I asked one of the neurologists back when he was showing me the CAT scan and he said, "You know, this -- what this black fluidry (ph) over his brain" -- he said, "that's atrophy." I said, "Atrophy?" He said, "Dead tissue." I said, "Well, but the brain can find ways around that, can't it?" He said, "Yes, in some cases," but he -- you know, they don't like to give you false hope. And I understand and I appreciate that. But I said, "So in many cases, the brain finds ways to reconnect?" We've heard stories about people who lost a third of their brain and one of those guys is mayor of his town today.

KING: To you, Dr. Schuller, what is going on here? Do you think God's hand is in here?

SCHULLER: Well, I think God's hand is in everything, but that's good.

KING: But not bad?

SCHULLER: No, I don't think God's into the bad stuff.


KING: Well, who does the bad stuff? Who does the floods?

SCHULLER: I think we humans.

KING: Well, we don't do floods.

SCHULLER: No, hell, we built our houses where the water flows over it.


KING: We do dumber things?

SCHULLER: That's right.

KING: But you think God's hand was operating there?

SCHULLER: I think God's hand is operating in the therapy and in the healing.

KING: But you don't know why it's moving slowly?

SCHULLER: No... KING: Do you, Jack?

SCHULLER: I have a little sermon I gave years ago. God always answers every player without a single exception, either with a no or with a slow wait a while.

KING: Do you believe God's hand is in this, Jack?

HAYFORD: Oh, unquestionably. You know, I would -- there's no other explanation. This is not to demean or devalue what has been done by faithful physicians and gifted therapists and everybody else involved. But as far as the issue of the timing and the slowness of it, I think that there's -- we always, of course, want to push, pull and switch and switch, add water and mix kind of a thing and that's understandable. And there are some mercies that come very rapidly. But there is a mercy of God that is processing more things in the midst of a slow thing that, to the temporal perspective, is -- taxes our patience, but from the divine perspective, is bringing a much larger good. And it's clear, what's happening with Ryan -- there -- the answer is on the way and the time issue is working a lot of good in the midst of it, too.

KING: You want to say something?

SCHULLER: Yes, in the Old Testament, the words "wait on the Lord, wait on the Lord." Hundreds and hundreds of times.


SCHULLER: Wait, wait, wait. And, you know, I don't ask God why. I said that. I'll just watch and wait. He answers it in his own way in his own time.

KING: Don't you get a little fidgety?

BOONE: Oh, yes. It's been agony for us and what comforts me is that I know that, again, repeatedly throughout the whole bible, the Old Testament prophets and angels and then, Jesus himself said, "Fear not, I am with you. I'm going through this with you." And Father Schuller mentioned Jesus, don't cry of agony. Father, can't this pass from me. I don't want to do this. Isn't there some other way?" Well, it had been predetermined there was no other way, so God went through the agony of the cross and the crucifixion with his son.

Now, Jesus said, "I'm going through whatever you go through with you." So it's not as if he's not pained by what we're going through, but there is a purpose and there's a reason. And good, as Jack sated, is being accomplished through it. I mean, we keep bumping -- I do all the time -- to people who say, "I'm praying for your grandson, praying" -- they've seen him here.

KING: What about the, Lindy, family support and interaction?

MICHAELIS: I have a lot of it.

KING: You have a lot? The whole family has been involved, right...

MICHAELIS: Yes, yes.

KING: ... in this? Do you think that plays a part?

MICHAELIS: I certainly do.

KING: The fact they're around and he sees...

MICHAELIS: Absolutely. There is something just instinctive in me that tells me he needs to see the familiar faces. He needs to know we haven't left him. He's in a, you know, fog a lot of times and we bring him back to do you remember this? Do you remember -- and he's nodding yes now. He's able to respond.

KING: Does this increase your expectations that he'll talk...

MICHAELIS: Oh, I have...

KING: ... someday at the normal level?

MICHAELIS: I have no doubt. He has the ability. He has so much language. He can read. He reads flashcards.

KING: Oh, he does?


BOONE: Yes, properly.

MICHAELIS: He can read.

KING: Initial doubter, have you changed?

CORBIN: Totally.

KING: Because you...

CORBIN: You know what? I'll take that back. I never doubted that Ryan would be well, but I've tried to come to God on my intellect, my whole life and that's why I wasn't getting anywhere.

KING: It don't work, does it?

CORBIN: It doesn't.

KING: It's faith or not faith?

CORBIN: Well, you just got to take the leap and you just got to do it. And once you start to do it, that's when you start to see the whole thing.

KING: We could -- I'm playing devil's advocate...


KING: ... not to bring in the name...


KING: ... say, "It's kind of ridiculous to think that someone, something, is hearing everybody on Earth, hearing people in Australia, 40 billion people. He's hearing them. He's involved in this guy. If a Chinese kid fell today in Beijing, he's involved in helping that kid get better."


KING: That seems...

CORBIN: How does he do it?

KING: How do you know that he does it?


SCHULLER: Yes, well, they got a computer chip on the market -- on the really good market that will take six billion hits in it. So if one little computer chip the size of a stamp can be programmed for six billion, don't you think it's easy to see how God can handle six billion people.

HAYFORD: God created the guy that created the computer so...

BOONE: Yes, can I...

KING: Well, who created God? We can keep going on.

BOONE: Can -- you asked about why.

KING: You want to answer why because I want to take a break and come back. And then, you can answer why.

BOONE: OK, sure, all right.

KING: As we -- because I don't know why. And I'm impressed with people who do know why. As we go to break, here's little sister with Ryan. Watch.


CORBIN: Can you do your head, shoulders, knees and toes? Ready, go.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. Head, shoulders, knees and toes.




DOUG CORBIN, RYAN'S DAD: What do you like, man? So what's up? Good to see you, babe.


KING: That's Ryan's dad, Mr. Michaelis.

BOONE: Doug Corbin. That's his actual, physical dad.

KING: Oh, that's right. You were remarried, right?

BOONE: Yes, yes.


KING: So he has a stepfather and a father? Two good dads?

BOONE: Yes, I guess, two dads, yes, and a heavenly one, too.

KING: All right, Pat, do you know why?

BOONE: I've got...

KING: Oh sage.

BOONE: I got a great glimpse the other day, Larry, and it echoes some of what Jack was saying. And we were coming up from seeing Ryan. It was late -- mid Sunday afternoon. A pretty bad accident occurred on the freeway, on 405. Two cars collided and another careened across in front of oncoming traffic and it was really a bad scene. And, of course, it shakes you and people are already calling 911. And I don't think anybody was terribly hurt in this particular one, but as I drove home, I was thinking that's it. That's the answer to why.

Because every day, almost all of us do something extremely dangerous and that is drive a big machine, 65, 70 miles an hour up a freeway with thousands of other cars. And just a few feet away, thousands of other cars are hurdling past us at equal speeds and we feel perfectly safe. I mean we drink coffee. We listen to the radio. We talk on the phone. We're perfectly relaxed as we do this extremely dangerous thing and the only reason we feel safe is because painted on the freeway are some lines. We know that if we stay within those lines, we're going to be OK. If everybody else does it, everybody gets where they're going. If one person departs and gets out of those lines and it causes chaos and catastrophe.

The Ten Commandments are the lines on the freeway, sermon on the mound, guidelines. They weren't meant to restrict us. They were meant to protect us. But when we decide that they no longer matter or they blur, we lose sight of them, everything gets out of whack and everything comes unglued and catastrophes result and innocent people get hurt.

KING: What's -- very well said. What's the difference, Lindy, in care at home to care in a facility?

MICHAELIS: Well, for me, it's wonderful to wake up in the morning and go right downstairs and be able to say, "Good morning." And lately, I've heard whispered, "Good morning."

KING: You actually hear it?

MICHAELIS: Yes. He's starting to get air coming through with his words. It's also wonderful to kiss him good night and go to bed. I love not having him up -- away from the home. For him, the familiarity, the seeing the family in...

KING: Does he go outside?

MICHAELIS: We take him outside. We walk him up and down the street. The neighbors come and say, "Hello."

BOONE: Can you (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Larry, what he did to you the other night when you cuddled up against him in bed? You leaned your head on his shoulder or something.

MICHAELIS: I think you're talking about something that I might not remember. A while ago, I hugged him and he bent over and he kissed my shoulder. And I said, "I love you" and I could hear whisper, "I love you."

KING: Does he eat well?

MICHAELIS: He does at times and other times, not. He still has a feeding tube and so, his appetite needs to increase still. But he can chew and swallow and drink clear liquids. So I have, again, every expectation the language...

KING: He's not losing weight or -- his health is OK?

MICHAELIS: His health is good.

KING: Vital signs?

MICHAELIS: He's prone to infection. His vital signs are great, but we've been handling those as they come and he gets over them. He's very strong.

KING: Is it frustrating, Jessi, to give more love than you get back?

CORBIN: I get so much love from him.

KING: You do?

CORBIN: So much. I'm not lying. Like, when I look into his eyes, he is what makes any task in my life seem, you know, easy because I look into his eyes and look at the battle that that guy has to face and the love that he gives to everybody else, you know -- again, first thing that he did coming out of the coma was kiss and the first words out of his mouth, I think, it was "Ow" and then it was "I love you." So he's full of love and that -- you know, he gives back so much.

KING: OK, we don't have the why to that answer or we have Pat's pretty good answer. Another question that a great rabbi wrote a book about, why do you think -- we'll go around on this -- Jack Hayford, why do bad things happen to good people?

HAYFORD: Well, I don't want to seem like I only have one saw to work on, but I really do believe this issue of the brokenness of our world is...

KING: I said good people...


KING: ... who don't -- who aren't broken up?

HAYFORD: But we as good people live in a broken world.

KING: But we didn't cause it.

HAYFORD: That's -- I'd like to think I made no contribution to it, but the fact of the matter is all of us have to some degree.

KING: A child made no contribution to it.

HAYFORD: Oh, I understand we're not consciously pursuing the things that are going to be destructive. But it's an imperfect world filled with imperfect people, but that can seem so casual. The real thing that I address that terminology to is the notion that somehow God has preappointed or predesigned these kind of things, as some arbitrary action or some punishment for reasons we don't understand.

When we come to this why just a moment ago, the risk I take and even suggesting this is because I don't mean this exclusively is the answer to why. But as a very, very moving thing to any of us to sit here and watch Jessi and listen to her words. I would not want to for a split second invoke the suggestion that God let this happen to Ryan in order to do what accomplish -- what's happened in Jessi because he doesn't do that. I'm not suggesting God did this to make it happen. Out of it's happening...

KING: It did occur?

HAYFORD: ...if we just took that one beautiful thing that's occurring there, not to mention the fact that that's going to be compounded, who knows how many times in other lives.

KING: Let me get a break in. And when we come back, more -- we will reintroduce our panel. If you just joined us, an incredible story of prayer and recovery. As we go to break, here is Lindy with her son in therapy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There -- oh, which one are you trying for?

MICHAELIS: He wants -- which one do you want?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you want song lyrics. OK. Come on. Three. Three points. It's worth three points. All right. Mom's going to sing it and you finish the song lyrics. Ready?

MICHAELIS: Ready? Can I see it? Summer loving had me a -- what? Yes, blast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good. There you go.

MICHAELIS: Three points.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three points for Ryan. You're tied up with Mom.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Give me your hand. Just let go. Ready? Thumb's up. Yea!



KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. We're discussing the life and times of Ryan. Our guests are Pat Boone, whose grandson Ryan is recovering from a coma he went into after suffering a freak fall on June 19, 2001.

His mother, Lindy Boone Michaelis, Ryan's mother and Pat Boone's daughter. Jessi Corbin, who is Pat's granddaughter and Ryan's sister. Dr. Robert Schuller, he is founding pastor of the Crystal Cathedral ministries, and Reverend Jack Hayford. He is Pat Boone's pastor and pastor of Church on the Way. I want to get Dr. Schuller's thoughts on bad things happening to good people.

SCHULLER: The question should not be why do bad things happen to good people. We don't know the answer. And we can speculate. The right question is what happens to good people when bad things happen to them? That is the question. We know the answer. They always change. They always become better people.

KING: Better people?

SCHULLER: Yes. When bad things happen to good people, they always become better.

KING: Don't good people get bitter or get angry or seek revenge?

SCHULLER: There are these elements in the process, but in the process, they learn or intuitively or through the answer of prayer, make -- become better people.

KING: In that regard, Pat, what was Ryan like before?

BOONE: Oh, I've always referred to him as the sweetest-hearted young guy I've ever known.

KING: Crazed basketball fan, right?

BOONE: Great, and it meant...


Yes, and he could identify Kobe -- he could identify Kobe and Shaq and, when I asked him, I said who is that guy that used to be with the Lakers -- he was watching the television on the Sacramento playoffs, that guy Vlade? And he says "Divac." He could say Vlade Divac.

So he was most valuable player on his team in high school. He could name all his buddies, when Lindy asked him who played with him. He was -- he still holds the all-time record for rebounds.

KING: What kind of work was he doing?

BOONE: He worked as assistant to the writer on the "Will and Grace" television show, and was an up-and-coming writer himself.

KING: That was his goal?

BOONE: Yes. He wanted to write and direct.

KING: We have a clip of -- that plays right into this. Watch.


RYAN CORBIN: Well, we're at the French Riviera. We're in Nice. It's July 11, and what can I say? It's nice. It's very nice in Nice.


KING: Jessi, he looks like a lot of fun.

CORBIN: Oh, God, don't get me started. But like, you know, just the most wholesome, like you want him on your side because he's always going to be there to pick you up. That kind of a guy.

KING: What fault did he have or does he have?

CORBIN: Being too nice.

KING: Come on!

CORBIN: I swear to you. I had to get on his case so many times for not standing up for himself. I did.

KING: Let people step all over him?

CORBIN: At times.

KING: He'd do things for people?

CORBIN: Yes, especially girls.

KING: Did he do well with girls?

CORBIN: He did well with them.

KING: He had a fiance that left him, though, after this happened, right?

BOONE: Yes, it was rough for her. The psychologist told her that she didn't think that Ryan would ever fully recover and might not know her and might not be the same guy that she fell in love with, and the uncertainty was excruciating.

KING: What about the sacrifices, Lindy, the family has had to make?

MICHAELIS: It doesn't feel at all like a sacrifice. I suppose you could look at it that way. But for me, I need to do whatever it takes, so nothing feels like a sacrifice. I think we are the most blessed family to have each other, to have means and wherewithal to be able to function and not be out on the street during a catastrophe like this.

And every moment that I spend with Ryan is rewarding, and so it doesn't feel like a sacrifice.

KING: Reverend Hayford, what do you think the prayer did? We might ask it this way: why did God have to be asked?

HAYFORD: Well, because a whole lot of the situation on our earth has to do with God's desire to for us to learn a partnership with Him. And it's not that he could not on his own, obviously, do what He willed to do, but his will for this whole planet is that people learn to exercise their will in response to him and his availability. So I think what prayer does is exhibit our willingness to trust him, turn to him and say you're the answer to these situations.

KING: And Dr. Schuller, when we have other people pray for someone they don't know, what does that do?

SCHULLER: Well, if there's a love for the person who's doing the praying, and there is a love for the person who doesn't even know somebody is praying for them -- I think we are all experiencing a miracle or many miracles every day, we just don't realize it.

We just don't realize who is praying for us.

KING: Well said. We'll take a break and come back with more. Here's more of Ryan before.


BOONE: Looking at our soon-to-be 21-year-old grandson, who happens to have arrived on stilts, apparently.

CORBIN: Occasionally. Yes, still trying to grow. I'm hoping to get to about 8'4" before I'm done.

BOONE: Another Manute Bol in the making.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sing your pussycat song for Ryan, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL (singing): Pussycat, pussycat, I love you. Yes, I do.


KING: That is little Alyssa (ph) and Ryan. Do you have help groups? Do you meet with groups of other parents who have had people with injuries?

MICHAELIS: Actually, not really a support group. I'm taking Ryan twice a week to a wonderful facility called High Hopes in Tustin.

KING: What do they do?

MICHAELIS: Well, they're -- basically it's a rehab for head injury, brain injury, head trauma people in all different stages of their recovery. And they don't believe that there is a limit to how far a person is going to progress after head injury. And you just keep plugging away and see wonderful things when you continue.

And he goes into a cognition class where they were discussing emotions. And most everybody in there can participate verbally, and Ryan hasn't gotten there yet, but he pays attention. When they were talking anger, how to deal with their anger that they often feel after a head injury, I whispered to him, I said, "Ryan, you don't seem to be angry. You don't seemed to be dealing with anger." And he shook his head, no. And I said, "you're more driven by love, aren't you?" And he shook his head, yes. And that's what I was expecting, but he doesn't always answer me. But he clearly understood what I was saying.

KING: Jessi, as the youngest member of the panel, do you think about what he's thinking about?

CORBIN: Yes, and like I think that I can bring that to the table because I knew him really well.

KING: Sure.

CORBIN: And so, like, when I'm looking in his eyes and I can tell by his looks that he says this thing a lot. We go all things are, and he goes, possible. And he says it, you know? And he believes it. And there is nothing that I can do to like really show you that God is working in Ryan. But there isn't any way that Ryan would be here if God wasn't. And it's the consistency in the family and showing up all the time, you know.

KING: Isn't it possible, Jack, that it's him, not God, that it's Ryan?

HAYFORD: Well, you can't separate, especially when you're dealing with people of faith that are committed to their walk with God and have a touch with him. I had an extended time one afternoon with Ryan sometime before his accident and this is a kid who is not just love in a humanistic, gracious, loving way. He's a guy that has that link to the heart of God with a real passion to walk with him.

So, you can't separate what is his own will to live, and I'm not minimizing that in any way, but you can't answer this by saying he willed it.

KING: He's pastor -- Reverend Hayford is pastor of your church, right?

BOONE: Right.

KING: It's not Ryan's church, because we've had Ryan's pastor on.

BOONE: Well, not now, but back when Lindy and her family were a part of that church, she took him to -- when Ryan was just a little baby, took him to a church service and Jack Hayford...

HAYFORD: Held him in hand as an infant.

BOONE: ... and dedicated him to God at the hands of his parents, which he does all the time, with new babies in the congregation. So, he committed Ryan to God, dedicated him to God as a little infant. And I know when Ryan was first hurt, something happened. And that's the way -- I've been praying all along is, God, I'm not asking to you reach down from heaven and do something, I know you can. But you've been living in this boy since he was an infant. I'm asking you to rise up strong in him.

And that is what is happening and that is also the answer to the question, is it Ryan? God inhabits Ryan in his spirit. And so I'm asking him to rise up in that temple and bring Ryan back to us. I say he's going to sit here one day and talk to you.

KING: I'm sure he will. But he inhabits evil people too, doesn't he?

BOONE: They're created in his image, but I think sometimes people expel him as we as a nation are tending to do now. We're intending to expel God from our national life, publicly, Pledge of Allegiance, over and over, off the walls of buildings, everywhere else, God leave us alone unless we need you. And then, all of a sudden, something terrible happens.

KING: But you agree with separation of church and state? You don't want God...

BOONE: Separation of church and state -- listen, the original founders of the Constitution wanted God involved, but they wanted...


BOONE: Well...

KING: Not organized religion. They would be -- they kept the name out of the Constitution?

BOONE: Yes, but not out of the Preamble and out of the Declaration of Independence.

KING: Ben Franklin offered to put it in and he was defeated by the founding fathers.

BOONE: Yes, because they didn't want -- they were so afraid of establishing...

KING: A church-state.

BOONE: But, every one of them, and of course you know Thomas Jefferson, who created that phrase, separation of church and state, also wrote, "we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights." So, to take god's name out of our Pledge of Allegiance is...

KING: I thought that was a California court.

BOONE: Yes, it was the ninth court...

KING: It was never in the Pledge of Allegiance. It was just put in 1952.

BOONE: '54, yes.

SCHULLER: I want to come back to the hurt and the suffering in the world. I think one of the greatest sentence -- I would say the greatest sentence I ever heard outside of the holy bible was from my friend Dr. Victor Franco (ph). And he tells the story how he was stripped naked by the Gestapo to see if he was circumcised. And then when he was, he would go to the camp. And he wore -- one thing on his finger is his wedding band.

The Gestapo says, "give me your gold ring." And as the ring slipped off his finger, this idea came through his brain. And I say this for everybody who is watching you tonight who is real hurt, this was the idea. There is one thing nobody can ever take from me, and that is my freedom to choose how I will react to what happens to me. Profound and powerful.

And I want to say we look at Pat and Shirley and the family, and I've known them for 40 years, I guess. Yes. They've always been good people, but I sense even a deeper faith in them today. They have become deeper people. They've chosen to react.

KING: We'll be back with more, our remaining moments. But, first, more therapy. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hand down. Good. There you go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you counting? Say ouch if it hurts, OK?



KING: We're back. There is a healing power of prayer Web site that you can click on to. It's There is also a Web site to register blood types for emergency donation at What is your interest in blood donors?

BOONE: Well, I had already begun to -- Ryan had worked on this U.S. blood donors thing himself before he was hurt, when he wasn't doing the "Will and Grace" show. And it's a simple concept of getting everybody to go to this Web site, sign on, give their blood type and their willingness to be contacted if their particular blood type, when it's needed.

The American blood centers and the Red Cross just don't have a way yet, and this will supply that, of contacting the people who have the blood types they need in the regions where they're needed. And so, Ryan had begun to work on this. And the day before he was hurt, Shirley Jones and Charlton Heston and I were giving blood about 100 yards over at UCLA from where they brought Ryan the next day. He needed himself 36 pints of blood to keep him alive. And he had been working on this for other people and, suddenly, he needed it himself. So, of course, we feel very passionate about it.

KING: Anything the family has learned from this experience? Family have more tolerance, more patience, closer together?

MICHAELIS: I don't know. I think that we have always appreciated what a tight family we are and we are really grateful for it. I am even more grateful now.

KING: Because, you know, sometimes, husbands and wives part over an injury to a child.

MICHAELIS: Can I say on television how much I love my husband?


HAYFORD: Larry...

MICHAELIS: He's been wonderful.

HAYFORD: ... I would like to comment on the family, to my observation. I performed the wedding of all the girls. I dedicated many of the children, as we just mentioned, but Ryan. And they have always been a tight family. But there is a mellowing, a depth of relationship that is more than attributable to maturity that I've observed through this. And it's an immensely moving thing. So, yes, there is something that is deeper and richer in the family through this, and it's a beautiful thing. It's a special joy to watch Jessi.

KING: I was going to ask that. Do you feel it, Jessi?

CORBIN: There is a commitment level that I have to my family and my friends and everybody.

KING: You gave up a job in San Francisco, right, a good job?

CORBIN: Yes, a great job. I loved my job.

KING: On the air, broadcasting?

CORBIN: On the air. I got to talk about Web sites all day long as my job.

KING: And you came down to southern California?

CORBIN: Yes, it was just too difficult. Yes, I was going up and back on the weekends. It was just too much. My family needed me. And there are certain times in your life where you just got to go, OK, I got to go. I got to be there. And it's helped.

KING: Dr. Schuller is sort of the visitor to this story. What does this say to you...

BOONE: Except he's everybody pastor.

KING: I know. What does this say to you to look at what we've seen tonight?

SCHULLER: I see God all around me. I see God in every person that I meet. And I feel God very close in this whole story. We just have to learn to see God where we don't expect it.

KING: Did you feel, Pat, when you came on here and asked people all over the world to pray that that would work?

BOONE: Yes. Yes. I expect Ryan to recover completely even if this didn't happen. You, because you're a friend, gave us the opportunity, and, of course, I do believe that millions of people -- and as biblical example, the apostle Paul talks in 2nd Corinthians about his being at the point of death himself and he's writing to the Corinthians, the church, a group of people, just ordinary folks in (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But he said, you prayed for me, and he said, now I've been delivered from this death. And he says, now you can join in the rejoicing as you joined with me in the suffering and in the danger that I faced.

And so, yes, there is -- I think God is trying to bring about community, bring people together and let us know how interdependent we are. So, yes, I believed -- and still do, of course -- that this multitude of people around the world -- and I've heard from all over the world, thanks to you, from Jerusalem, from many foreign countries, Jewish guys at the health club that even didn't know Ryan and I still don't know their names, went and gave blood, not because they thought it would give to Ryan, but because they wanted to respond somehow to express their concern and their support and they've come up to me and said, I gave blood for your grandson.

KING: What do you make of the reaction from everywhere?

MICHAELIS: I'm touched.

KING: Surprised?

MICHAELIS: Yes, surprised, touched. I get letters months after this has aired. I think what caused them to sit down and write the letter now? That is what really amazes me is that I know time has passed and they're still holding him up in prayer. And I am so grateful for that and I'm very, very encouraged. I get letters from people that tell me about how God has done miraculous things for them and that builds my faith.

SCHULLER: So, there is God. They say, where is God when these bad things happen? Where is God? Why, immediately after the tragedy, whether it's their son or 9/11, immediately, the people are shocked. But who calls, who sends flowers, who offers prayer? And God is coming through all of these people.

BOONE: Give blood.

SCHULLER: Yes, the firemen, the policemen, God is the first person on the tragic scene.

KING: Do all of you believe Ryan will sit in this chair one day here?

BOONE: Absolutely.

MICHAELIS: I see it. I see it.

BOONE: You're going to have to raise the seat a little bit.

CORBIN: Drop it, yes.

BOONE: I mean drop it a little bit so that he won't be looking down.

KING: He'll be funny, right? He will be a good guest? You guarantee that?

BOONE: I guarantee he'll be a great guest. He'll have a lot to tell you.

KING: Well, you've all been that. Pat Boone, Lindy Boone Michaelis, Jessi Corbin, Dr. Robert Schuller and Jack Hayford. And this show is all about you, Ryan, and I know you're going to watch it. You've all been watching it.

We thank you very much for joining us. "NEWSNIGHT" with Aaron Brown is next. I'm Larry King in Los Angeles. For all our guests and the whole crew here and CNN crews around the world, good night.




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